92 Col. Joel Wilkinson (ret.) – Maine – Part I

Joel Wilkinson spent 28 years serving the state of Maine, including twelve years as Colonel of the Maine Warden Service. Now retired, Col. Wilkinson sits down with Wayne to reflect on an extraordinary career that began when he was just a teen. In this episode, we discuss his early years as a game warden, including an intense turn in covert operations that resulted in some of the agency’s most significant prosecutions of the time.

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Maine’s Operation Game Thief

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International Wildlife Crimestoppers

Here’s what we discuss:

  • Maine has used the term ‘game warden’ since 1880
  • No time to hunt or fish.
  • Learned about the outdoors from a girlfriend’s father
  • Started riding with game wardens at 16
  • Became a deputy warden at 19
  • Tried to sneak in a little early
  • “This is all I wanted to do.”
  • 2000 applicants, few positions
  • Tried appealing to the Colonel
  • Joined a local police department to gain experience
  • Trained with many Maine wardens at the academy
  • Finally hired by Maine Warden Service at 22
  • No warden in his area for 11 years
  • Caught first night hunter eight days after graduating
  • Moving to a new area, population: 4
  • Chris Simmons becomes the boss… and moves in across the road
  • A memorable Thanksgiving night
  • Shifting into covert investigations
  • A big case, but some unnerving moments
  • Targets often under the influence of alcohol and drugs
  • Seeing the other side
  • “It changed how we did business.”
  • Making Captain at 32
  • Learned many administrative skills
  • The Maine whitewater rafting industry
  • Many companies offer rafting, hiking, and rock climbing

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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91 Sean Spencer – Utah

Sean Spencer is a Sergeant with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. After 14 years patrolling in some of the most remote and most populous areas of the Beehive State, he’s dealt with a wide variety of people, wildlife, and problems. In this episode from the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association conference (NAWEOA) in Tennessee, he and our hosts discuss planning for next year’s conference, some of his memorable experiences, and much more!

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International Wildlife Crimestoppers

Here’s what we discuss:

  • Busy organizing NAWEOA 2023
  • Plan extra time to see the state
  • The “Mighty Five” national parks
  • First encounter with a game warden
  • Discovered the outdoors as a teen in Texas
  • Importance of balancing home and work life
  • Moving from a remote district to an urban one
  • Prime hunting only 30 minutes from home
  • Public safety vs. preservation
  • A memorable baiting case
  • Not every case results in a conviction
  • Growing population numbers create new challenges

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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W08 MooseMan Nature Photography

When Rick Libbey saw his first moose in 1981, he was hooked for life.  An entirely self-taught photographer, Rick and his wife Libby travel between New England and Alaska to capture stunningly beautiful and rare photos and videos of loons, bear, lynx, raccoons, wolves – and of course, moose – all of which they showcase on their YouTube channel and website, MooseMan Nature Photos. Often rising at 3am, they launch their kayaks before sunrise and wait silently for that perfect moment when a mighty bull moose emerges into a marsh, or a pair of loons appears in the morning fog. Taking great care never to intrude, they have spent years gaining the trust of some of these animals, frequently naming and photographing the same individuals year after year. The end result is not only spectacular, but conveys a profound sense of respect for wildlife, and the majesty and wonder of the great outdoors. 

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Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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90 Josh Landrum – Tennessee

Josh Landrum is a Nashville-based Boating Officer with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Besides receiving multiple honors for his tireless efforts to combat impaired boating, he has also served on the board of the Tennessee Wildlife Officers Association for the past decade, and most recently as president. This year, Josh and his fellow officers hosted the annual North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association (NAWEOA) conference, where Wayne and John caught up with him for a chat.  

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Sovereign Sportsman Solutions

“A Cowboy in the Woods” Book

Hunt of a Lifetime

Maine’s Operation Game Thief

Wildlife Heritage Foundation of NH

International Wildlife Crimestoppers

Here’s what we discuss:

  • Hosting NAWEOA 2022
  • Learning, training, and networking at NAWEOA
  • Encouraging the younger generation of game wardens to attend
  • A love of fishing led to a career in wildlife management
  • An urban game warden
  • Some of the largest deer in the state
  • Working to eliminate impaired boating
  • You never know who you’ll meet
  • Enjoying all that Nashville has to offer
  • NAWEOA 2023: Utah

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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89 Ty Runyan – Oklahoma

Ty Runyan is a state game warden with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Besides being a rancher, driving instructor, former K9 handler and sometimes-snake wrangler, he may be best known for his TikTok presence. Ty’s lighthearted, interesting, and educational short videos have attracted more than 175,000 followers. In this episode, he and Wayne discuss the value of social media as an outreach and recruitment tool, and share some exciting stories from the field.

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“A Cowboy in the Woods” Book

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International Wildlife Crimestoppers

Here’s what we discuss:

  • Ty gives a passerby some advice
  • Everyone knows where the game warden lives
  • A bit about Ty’s background
  • Social media as an outreach tool
  • An accidental TikTokker
  • Getting Departmental approval
  • Taking the bad with the good
  • Recruitment and legal questions from everywhere
  • Using the platform to change perceptions
  • Comedy helps to defuse situations
  • Ty’s rodeo adventures
  • Few game wardens employing TikTok – so far
  • “It’s amazing what people will put on social media”
  • Helping other states make cases
  • Conservation efforts have helped restore declining populations
  • Snakes!
  • A family of teachers
  • Spotlighting poachers: right place, right time
  • Larger platform has helped engage future game wardens

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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W07 Winter Ticks with Alexej Sirén

The winter tick is a small, external parasite which, like all ticks, survives on the blood of its host. Although winter ticks are not dangerous to human health, they can pose a significant threat to wildlife – moose calves in particular. In this episode, wildlife biologist Dr. Alexej Sirén describes the relationship between winter ticks and the eastern moose, how ticks spread, and efforts underway to help mitigate damage to the moose population.

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Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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88 Terry Hodges – Warden Force

Award winning author Terry Hodges is the creator of the popular Warden Force series of short stories, the true adventures of game wardens and the wildlife-destroying outlaws they pursue. Having been a California Fish & Game warden himself for over three decades, Terry writes with the special authority found only among those who have worn a badge on behalf of wildlife. In this episode, he shares some compelling – and often comical – stories of the legendary game warden who would become not only a mentor, but also the inspiration for the book that would launch a surprising new career.

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International Wildlife Crimestoppers

Here’s what we discuss:

  • Documenting history
  • The many tales of Ol’ Sabertooth
  • The first book
  • Learning to self-publish
  • Inventing an alter ego
  • Staying in the field after promotion
  • Frenchy’s last ride
  • Goose poaching in rice country
  • Snake gets sapped
  • Surprising a poacher deep in the woods
  • Sometimes moonshiners made good allies
  • Poacher escapes, but leaves Mercer a gift
  • Nine collections of short stories
  • From the latest collection: Death on Snake Mountain
  • Where to find the Warden Force series
  • In the works: two new books of Sabertooth stories

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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W06 Moose with Lee Kantar

Lee Kantar is man with moose on his mind. Whether he’s conducting aerial population surveys by helicopter, attaching specially adapted tracking collars, or racing to the scene of a mortality to conduct a field necropsy, Maine’s official state moose biologist is dedicated to the health and survival of the largest herbivore in the North Woods. Throughout the last decade, he has been integral to building a moose management program that’s been described as one of the most modern and comprehensive in the US.  

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Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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87 Eric & Ash Hannett – GypSeaLegs

Eric and Ashley Hannett are embarking on an adventure like no other – sailing the world while promoting conservation and sustainable living on their new YouTube channel, GypSeaLegs. In this episode, they share some triumphs – and some trials – they’ve faced while preparing for the first leg of their journey; sailing to the beautiful Bahamas, where they will begin repairs on a hurricane-damaged catamaran that will soon become their home.

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Thin Green Line Podcast

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“A Cowboy in the Woods” Book

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Maine’s Operation Game Thief

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International Wildlife Crimestoppers

Here’s what we discuss:

  • We got married!
  • New YouTube channel: GypSeaLegs
  • Filming yourself doesn’t come naturally
  • Eric’s questionable podcast promotion techniques
  • The challenges of creating content
  • Google to the rescue
  • Sailing down the coast in October            
  • Rescuing the dinghy – an unplanned swim
  • Gorgeous weather, rough seas
  • Trailering back to Jersey
  • Second try: everything is closed!
  • Buying a bigger boat
  • Preparing to head to the Bahamas
  • “You’ll never win against Mother Nature.”
  • The importance of being resourceful and self-reliant
  • Hopes for the YouTube channel
  • Learning about other regions and cultures

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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W05 Moose with Alexej Sirén

Historically native to the Northeast, the mighty eastern moose declined throughout the last century due to over hunting and land clearing. With the establishment of hunting laws and forest restoration efforts, the population slowly expanded, but is again under threat from climate change.  Warden’s Watch WILD is joined by wildlife biologist and postdoctoral researcher Alexej Sirén discussing he and his colleagues’ efforts to build a regional monitoring system to track moose populations and health in the Northeastern US, as well as their work to develop and improve tools to analyze the data they collect.

Our Sponsor:

The Village Gun Store

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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